BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - If you love football you will love Saturday's SEC action. No. 6 Texas A&M (5-0, 2-0) and No. 12 Mississippi State (4-0, 1-0) get things started in a morning clash beginning at 11:01 in Starkville.
This will be the first match up of two top-15 teams at Davis Wade Stadium since 1986. The No. 12 ranking is the highest in the Associated Press by a Dan Mullen team. It's the highest in the AP poll since the Bulldogs were ranked No. 12 on November 14, 1999.
Last year Texas A&M out slugged Mississippi State 51-41 and lead the all-time series with a 4-3 advantage.
Entering the Aggies showdown, Dan Mullen is 40-28 in his sixth season at Mississippi State and that ranks third on Mississippi State's all-time victories list. He's the winningest coach at Mississippi State since 1956 with a .588 percentage.
Bulldogs junior quarterback Dak Prescott leads all current SEC quarterbacks with 20 career rushing touchdowns and rushing yards with 1,325. Prescott is tied for third in MSU career TDs with 45, with 20 rushing and 25 passing TDs. So far this season Prescott is responsible for 14 touchdowns, 11 passing and 3 rushing.
No. 3 Alabama(4-0,1-0) travels to Oxford facing No. 11 Ole Miss (4-0, 1-0) at 2:30. This is the biggest games in years for the undefeated Rebels who are trying to become the first Ole Miss team to go 5-0 since the Rebels accomplished that feat in 1962.
Coach Nick Saban's team is ranked No. 1 in the Coaches Poll.
Alabama has been tabbed a 6 1/2 point favorite over the Rebels and the Ole Miss defense will give Bama its stiffest test to date. That could be the key. If Ole Miss can contain the Alabama offense and force turnovers, the Rebels have a chance for a major upset.
Another key to victory is Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace. He must play a complete game and he has to stay away from turning the ball over. In the 24-3 win over Memphis on Saturday Wallace tossed two interceptions and lost a fumble. To beat a Nick Saban team, you can't turn the ball over.
Ole Miss will be looking to end an 11 game losing skid to Alabama. In Oxford, Alabama leads the series 5-3 and lead the overall series 47-9-2.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze knows the run game will be a crucial factor in the game on Saturday.
"I believe I'm accurate that there hasn't been a team to rush and pass for over 100 yards against Alabama in the same game in the last two seasons. I know there hasn't going back to the middle of last season. I didn't check all the way back. There are people who have rushed for 90 and thrown for over 100 or thrown for 200, but it's very difficult to rush the football against them. They are so well-coached and have a really good scheme and a really good plan and they have really good players and there are three-deep of them. It's a difficult task. Do I think we're better running the football? I do, but are you judging it just on this next game? I don't know. It's a tall task to consistently do it. You have to be balanced. You have to mix it up and find things that give your kids a chance to do what you're asking them to do, but it's a difficult defense to do it against."
Ole Miss has 9 interceptions on the season and a few more on Saturday could go a long way in the Rebels pulling off an upset. The key is keeping the long ball away from Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims and game breaking wide receiver Amari Cooper.
"The most impressive with Sims is his accuracy and how efficient he's been running the offense. He's completing a huge percentage of his passes and throws the deep ball extremely well. Cooper is arguably one of the top three receivers in the nation, if not the best, and he's been super explosive. You have to guard him on runs because of the screen game, and you have to guard him on the deep ball. He's a difficult match up for everybody, including us."
Ole Miss senior quarterback Bo Wallace says the Rebels are looking forward to the challenge.
"It's obviously a big challenge playing Alabama. They're a top-five team and the distractions are going to be here. It's a great opportunity for our team. We're excited about the challenge, and we know it's going to be a good game."
Number 15 LSU (4-1, 0-1) can regain some of the magic it lost when Mississippi State dominated the Tigers two weeks ago. The Tigers travel to No. 5 Auburn ( 4-0, 1-0) where true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris will receive his first starting assignment.
In 7 offensive series in LSU's 63-7 win over New Mexico State on Saturday, Harris guided the Tigers to 7 touchdowns.
Harris accounted for five touchdowns, three passing and two running. He completed 11 of 14 passes for 178 yards.
LSU sophomore Anthony Jennings led the Tigers to one touchdown in 7 offensive series. He also tossed 2 interceptions and lost a fumble.
LSU head coach Les Miles said Harris deserves to get the starting nod on Saturday.
"He did the things that we asked him to do, make quality decisions with the ball, function the offense,"stated Miles.
LSU is 7-2 under Miles against Auburn and have beaten the Alabama Tigers in 6 consecutive games. However, Auburn has a solid offensive attack and will face a young LSU defensive team that is sprinkled with true freshmen and sophomores. The LSU defensive line has been the weakest link so far and you can bet Auburn coach Gus Malzahn will take advantage.
Southern Miss (2-3) is coming off a 41-23 setback to the Rice Owls and face Middle Tennessee State on the road Saturday at 11.
Golden Eagles head coach Todd Monken said Middle Tennessee has a number of good running backs.
"The running backs are running better. They have a couple of good running backs. They have had four different running backs going back to last year that have all carried the ball. I think three of them at one point each had 100-yard games last year. The Whatley kid is a little faster, a little more explosive. Plus they have a couple of bigger guys. They do a nice job of rotating them and keeping them fresh. I think their o-line has done a good job. They do a nice job of playing physical on the perimeter. This is a team that is going to force you to defend the width of the field. They are going to force you to get lined up and they get you stuck with your personnel on the field. They do a good job."
One of the bright spots for Southern Miss has been the Golden Eagles coming up with 6 interceptions in five games.
On having six interceptions through the first five games.
Monken said,"It is a byproduct of your defensive front. Can you get pressure on the quarterback? And can you force them to throw? That is when you are going to get interceptions if you get pressure on the quarterback and force them to throw. Last year, we didn't get a lot of pressure. We weren't in situations where we forced them to throw. That is where you are going to create those opportunities – long yardage situations and when you are up in a game. That's how you are going to create those turnovers. Obviously, losing the turnover battle was a big part of the game."